I forgot briefly how much fun I’ve been having learning the histories of these different cultures and trying out some of their recipes. Back from my country hiatus, I’m onto Sri Lanka now!
Let me start by saying this meal was amazing. Seriously, one of my favorite things I’ve learned how to make, definitely the best fish recipe I’ve ever tried, super simple and easy, and a recipe I’m adding to whatever cookbook I pass on to my children someday. Maybe I’m hyping this up too much, but I made this recipe two weeks in a row so it’s at least popular in our casa! If you’re only in it for the recipe, get pumped up and scroll on down.
Before I get to the recipe though, I need to give you some fact about Sri Lanka!
Sri Lanka has a very long history – like prehistoric long. There is ample evidence of people inhabiting the region over 35,000 years ago! The earliest people there likely migrated from northern India, following their hunter-gatherer habits to the south and probably across a land bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka, which is now covered with water but may have been passable up to the 15th century.
Along with this very long anthropologic history there are also many myths around how people came to be here. One of those stories also involves that actually-existing land bridge. Ramayana is an epic poem that tells the story of the royal god, Rama, whose wife, Sita, was kidnapped by the demon-god, Ravana, and taken away to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama and his brother make many attempts to rescue Sita and ultimately make a deal with the kingdom of the monkeys to build a bridge from India to Lanka and use it to attack and kill Ravana and bring Sita home. There is a lot that is unknown about both the actual origin of this land bridge and the original authorship date of the story of Ramayana. Interestingly, the date range for when this story was authored is similar to the time frame experts suggest the land bridge was created.
The kingdom of Sri Lanka (once Ceylon) was ruled by indigenous people for generations, until the Portuguese found it in the early 1500s. In my Portugal post I mentioned how Portugal was one of the first countries to really explore the world and is considered the first global empire, having many territories all over the eastern hemisphere. Sri Lanka was one of those countries Portugal eventually conquered. And then the Dutch took over. And then the Brits took over, for a long time. In the early 1900s, Britain began sharing power with the people of Sri Lanka and in 1948 Sri Lanka gained complete independence.
As we could probably expect, there were still intra-national issues for the new country. Under British rule, people from India – Tamils – were brought in to work plantations in Sri Lanka. The Tamils and the more native Sri Lankan people (the Sinhalese) struggled against one another throughout the second half of the 20th century, it seems primarily because of ethnic and religious differences and civil inequalities that developed as part of these differences. While Buddhism and Hinduism made their way to Sri Lanka very early in its history, Islam came with the Tamils and this difference has been a source of conflict for generations.
Civil war in Sri Lanka lasted 26 years, finally ending in 2009. As the country has become more stable, tourism has increased substantially in recent years. Visitors from Europe and around the world have taken notice of the beautiful sites and experiences they can find in Sri Lanka. From beaches to elephant safaris, to ancient ruins and great food, there is much to explore and experience in and around Sri Lanka.
As a side note, it’s still crazy to me that, while most religions speak peace and hope for it, the differences between religions typically result in very much unrest. And this is not just a thing of the past – we can see the evidences of this all too easily today. I’ve said before (also in my Portugal post) that so-called “holy wars” have no place in Christianity. True belief in God means you trust him to judge. We are no longer called to carry out God’s judgment on other nations or people groups. We are called to love them despite, and probably even because of our differences. It is God who judges (James 4:12).
Now, let’s get down to business. This fish recipe will (hopefully) be the highlight of your week! For those that aren’t really fish fans, the barbecue sauce is very buttery so you’ll barely notice any fishiness (it is more noticeable in the leftovers). Also, it made quite a bit of sauce so I would recommend cutting back on the sauce recipe if you’re only feeding two or three people. I made this two weeks in a row for my husband and me and only made the sauce once, if that helps you determine how much sauce you’ll need.
Also, I am SUPER excited because this recipe marks the first time I've made rice that was actually good! Typically, my rice is dry and overcooked. Apparently the secret is a little extra water and a spoonful of butter. This success may be another reason why I liked this recipe so much...
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 1/2 lb. Per person king or coho salmon or halibut, filleted or steaked
- Heat in saucepan until dissolved and blended: brown sugar, lemon juice, soy sauce and butter.
- Place fish on grill over hot coals, cover, baste with sauce 2-3 times during cooking. When barbecuing filleted salmon, cook with skin on, skin side down and do not turn. Steaks may need to be turned.
- Grill until done, about 10-15 minutes.
- To test for doneness, place an instant reading thermometer in the thickest part of the flesh, 120 degrees is done. Or, flake apart, and when flesh has lost transparency, it is done.
- Serve with additional barbecue sauce and lemon wedges.
- “Adam's Bridge - The Mythical Bridge Over the Ocean.” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, www.srilanka.travel/adam's-bridge.
- “India and Sri Lanka - PlanetSAT Global Satellite Image.” PlanetObserver, www.planetobserver.com/portfolio-posts/adams-bridge-india-sri-lanka-planetsat-15-satellite-image/.
- “The Monkeys and Bears Build a Bridge to Lanka.” Philadelphia Museum of Art, www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/57808.html?mulR=29623.
- “Ramayana.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 July 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/Ramayana-Indian-epic.
- Rodrigo, Malaka. “Prehistoric Man Stirs to Life as Scientists Find Clues to the Past in Ancient Caves | The Sunday Times Sri Lanka.” Times Online, The Sunday Times, 13 Nov. 2016, www.sundaytimes.lk/161113/news/prehistoric-man-stirs-to-life-as-scientists-find-clues-to-the-past-in-ancient-caves-216781.html.
- “Sri Lanka Travel.” Lonely Planet, www.lonelyplanet.com/sri-lanka.
- “Sri Lanka Profile - Timeline.” BBC News, BBC, 4 Sept. 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12004081.